Daniel Eugene Peterson

image of Dan Peterson

Dan Peterson

Daniel Eugene Peterson, Seattle Community College instructor from 1966 to 1993, passed away on December 19th, 2019 in Seattle, Washington.

Born in Missoula, Montana on May 14, 1929 to Florence and Daniel Eric Peterson, he spent his earliest years in Montana moving to Grandview, Washington, where his father pastored Bethany Presbyterian church.

In 1938 the family moved to Coulee Dam.  The quarterback on the football team, Dan graduated from Mason City High School in 1947.  Dan attended the University of Washington, graduating with a history degree in 1951, and married music major Shari Palmer in 1952.  Dan won a Rotary Club Fellowship to the London School of Economics and they made their home in London for a year, where Scott was born.    Upon returning to Washington state, Dan first taught history at Cheney High School, then Bremerton High School. He became a college professor at Olympic Junior College.  Another son, Kevin, was born in 1956, and a daughter, Siri, in 1958. He earned his MA in History in 1959.  Dan next took another teaching position at Highline Community College in 1963 and a fourth child, Bret, was born in 1964.  The family moved a final time to Seattle in 1973.  Dan taught history at Seattle Central Community College, 1966-1990’s; for more than a decade he served as Social Sciences Division Chair.  After retirement, he remained affiliated with the college for many years also teaching at North Seattle Community College, Seattle University, and Eastern University. Dan was a marathon runner from 1982-2002 competing in many local Pacific Northwest races, even placing 3rd in his age (73) bracket for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge run.

In retirement he enjoyed serving as the historian for the Columbia River Boat—Queen of the West, for seven years, providing interpretation of regional events and locations to tourists while traveling on the stern-wheeler from Portland, Oregon to Lewiston, Idaho, and out to the mouth of the river at Astoria!

As an adjunct to his career, Dan served as president of the Washington State School Retirees’ Association.  At the end of his life, he lived at Foundation House, a retirement center originally established by the Retired Teachers’ Association.  Dan was also a founding member of the Pacific Northwest Historians Guild and Washington State Historian’s Association.

Dan became involved in religious ecumenicalism when his father served as minister of the Grand Coulee Dam construction camp church, was an adviser and editor to a study that became known as Roots and Branches; it told the complete story of Washington State’s religious heritage. He was involved as an active member of University Baptist Church from the 1990’s until its closing in 2017.

Dan had a lifelong appreciation of music, which he and Shari shared together.

Dan was preceded in death by his wife Shari, (2011) of fifty-nine years, as well as by his son Scott (1975) and son Kevin (2016).  He is survived by his daughter Siri Shapiro (Tony) and grandchildren, Chelsea, Rachel Pearson, (Drew), Daniel, and Nate, and by his son, Bret Peterson, all of the greater Seattle area, as well as by a cousin, Carole Barnes, of Van Nuys, California.

The family gathered informally to honor Dan and his memory, and welcomes thoughts and comments below.

Monetary donations may be made to the Seattle School Retirees’ Association, which Dan gave many tireless hours to securing teacher pensions. Their website https://wssra.org/index.php/resources#wssr-foundation includes a tab for foundation donations.  Future teachers of Washington state will appreciate your generosity, as would the Dan Peterson family. We thank you in advance!


4 Responses to “Daniel Eugene Peterson”

  • Larry Silverman says:

    I fondly remember Dan when both he and I were at Seattle Central Community College. Dan was an administrator, but he later served as president of our teacher’s union, local 1789. Dan was a leader among faculty and I will always appreciate his wisdom and knowledge.

  • Joan Sandler says:

    I got to know Dan when he and Shari were members of the Fine Arts Study Club. He had a wonderful gift for presentation. I regret that I never took one of the riverboat trips he led.

  • Charles LeWarne says:

    Dan was a founding and longtime member of the Pacific Northwest Historians Guild. Not only was he a fount of knowledge of regional history – including stories of growing up while Grand Coulee Dam was being built – but he was a friendly, warm and delightful person always with a twinkle in his eye.

  • Judy Bentley says:

    I knew Dan as both a faculty member and union member in the Seattle community colleges but also as a board member of the Pacific Northwest Historians Guild. In both, he was a spark who kept the Guild board going in the lean times and was a fun colleague in history.

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